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McGeeney hails Armagh belief after big Derry win

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney said his players were able to “stop listening to the noise” and believe in themselves which resulted in a memorable victory in Celtic Park.

The team’s 3-17 to 0-15 win over Derry, who had been expected to respond to back-to-back championship defeats, was one of the county’s best performances of the McGeeney era and puts them in a strong position to reach the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals.

“You can’t say they were two evenly-matched sides (with Donegal) and one was as good as the other because that stuff doesn’t sell,” he said.

“So the noise they would hear, whether it’s me or putting on subs and all that stuff, you know it’s a personal thing and to be able to block that out and understand you were there or thereabouts over the last two years, well you’d have to be very happy with the result.”

For a team that has had to absorb more than its fair share of narrow defeats and bad luck, mental toughness and resilience are good calling cards for McGeeney’s side to inherit.

“It’s a very slim margin as we’ve seen over the last two years (losing to Derry and Donegal in Ulster finals),” said McGeeney.

“One point in any direction would have made you a wee bit, I suppose, easier in terms of the story being written but these fellas just keep coming back and keep pushing and you have to admire them for that.”

Armagh impress despite injury blows

McGeeney confirmed Ciaran Mackin sustained a season-ending cruciate ligament in training during the week while Andrew Murnin was a late withdrawal from the starting team having picked up a knock in the win over Westmeath a week ago.

That same game ended Conor O’Neill’s season with an Achilles injury. Given all those setbacks, this was a superb level of performance from McGeeney’s side.

“Somebody does their cruciate in front of you, I know the feeling because I’ve done both of mine, and it’s a devastating blow – not just to the player themselves, everybody feels it.

“It’s the same with Conor O’Neill with the Achilles. All of that included, you are delighted.”

While acknowledging that it was “a tough week” with injuries, McGeeney was delighted with how the fresher additions fared, in particular the outstanding Ross McQuillan and Niall Grimley.

“This last two weeks Ross has been flying at training and he’s really pushed on and I thought he was fantastic, himself and Niall Grimley.

“He has had a tough year personally but he’s always been close and to put in a performance like he did today, I’m delighted for him and his family.”

Armagh will play Galway at a neutral venue in two weeks time to determine who tops the group and goes straight through to the All-Ireland quarter-final.

The loser will likely have home advantage in the preliminary quarter-final, so when Armagh come down from the high of this win they will realise there is still a lot at stake.

“As we all know Monday comes and Tuesday will be all about the next game,” added McGeeney.

“But for today, I’m really proud of the fellas and the way they carried themselves today and the result they got.”